Book of Leviticus Chapter
Fourteen Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
This chapter is deep in its implications about you and your relationship to God. Something, Someone had to die in your place, in order for you, the dead person, to be cured, made alive in the sight of God. As Paul would say in Ephesians 2:1, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins." Out of death comes life. Notice the two innocent birds in Verses 1-4, a parable of the innocent Lord's sacrifice that leaps out of the Book of Leviticus: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 'This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection of leprosy has been healed in the leper, 4 then the priest shall give orders to take two live clean birds and cedar wood and a scarlet string and hyssop for the one who is to be cleansed.'"
Isaiah 1:18 shouts the encouraging words, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow." David, in grief over his sin, called out in Psalm 51:7, "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean." Ezekiel 17:22-24 tells of a cedar twig that would "bear fruit," and these substances speak of the Messiah—"By His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5), referring to both physical and spiritual healing. One of the gentle birds was suddenly killed in Verse 5—"The priest shall also give orders to slay the one bird in an earthenware vessel over running water," and the innocent Messiah would abruptly die for our sins.
Cedar wood, common in the region at that time, was likely used for Jesus' cross, and along with the red string and hyssop, this is a parable, pointing to the future Messiah who gave His life for us. Verse 6: "As for the live bird, he shall take it together with the cedar wood and the scarlet string and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was slain over the running water." As you read the verses that follow, keep in mind that God is creating a picture, helping us understand His gift of the Messiah, with the intention that you and I will be cleansed by God's grace, through faith, from leprosy of the soul. Verse 7: "He shall then sprinkle seven times the one who is to be cleansed from the leprosy and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the live bird go free over the open field." Two incredibly important aspects of Christ's ministry on earth are foretold here: 1) He would die for our sins, and 2) He would be resurrected from the dead, with His death and life seen in this parable of the two birds.
The shaving of hair and beard was a symbol of mourning in Israel, and so should we mourn for our sin, the leprosy of our soul. Verses 8-9: "The one to be cleansed shall then wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe in water and be clean. Now afterward, he may enter the camp, but he shall stay outside his tent for seven days. 9 It will be on the seventh day that he shall shave off all his hair: he shall shave his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair. He shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water and be clean." We must be washed in the blood of our Lord, made clean by faith in Him and His sacrifice. He makes us clean, fit to fellowship with God and one another.
The parable shifts slightly and continues in Verses 10-13: "Now on the eighth day he is to take two male lambs without defect, and a yearling ewe lamb without defect, and three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and one log of oil; 11 and the priest who pronounces him clean shall present the man to be cleansed and the aforesaid before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 12 Then the priest shall take the one male lamb and bring it for a guilt offering, with the log of oil, and present them as a wave offering before the Lord. 13 Next he shall slaughter the male lamb in the place where they slaughter the sin offering and the burnt offering, at the place of the sanctuary—for the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy." Jesus is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29).
Going to the priest in this chapter represents coming in faith to the Lord for salvation and healing, and in doing so, you and your body belong to God. Verse 14: "The priest shall then take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot." He shed His blood, you receive what He did, and from that moment, what you hear, what you do, and where you go, all belong to Him. To direct you on your journey with the Lord, you are given His Holy Spirit, represented by the "oil" of Verses 15-18: "The priest shall also take some of the log of oil, and pour it into his left palm; 16 the priest shall then dip his right-hand finger into the oil that is in his left palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of the oil seven times before the Lord. 17 Of the remaining oil which is in his palm, the priest shall put some on the right ear lobe of the one to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the blood of the guilt offering; 18 while the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s palm, he shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf before the Lord." Give yourself to the Lord and joyfully discover that You are His and He is with you, now and forever.
Have you committed sin? Of course you have—Scripture teaches, "ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). And so, an important aspect of Christ's substitutionary death is the ultimate Offering for our sin: "The priest shall next offer the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from his uncleanness. Then afterward, he shall slaughter the burnt offering." Jesus was utterly destroyed so you and I might live in the sight of God, as seen in the burnt offering of Verse 20: "The priest shall offer up the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he will be clean." As to the grain offering, Jesus said, "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35, 47).
Not all of us have the same circumstances in life, and God continually addresses our individual needs and situations. Take faith as an example. If salvation was based on intellect or physical strength, it would be unfair, but God accepts us on the basis of faith. What can the poor person do? God answers in Verses 21-32: "But if he is poor and his means are insufficient, then he is to take one male lamb for a guilt offering as a wave offering to make atonement for him, and one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and a log of oil, 22 and two turtledoves or two young pigeons which are within his means, the one shall be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering. 23 Then the eighth day he shall bring them for his cleansing to the priest, at the doorway of the tent of meeting, before the Lord. 24 The priest shall take the lamb of the guilt offering and the log of oil, and the priest shall offer them for a wave offering before the Lord. 25 Next he shall slaughter the lamb of the guilt offering; and the priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 26 The priest shall also pour some of the oil into his left palm; 27 and with his right-hand finger the priest shall sprinkle some of the oil that is in his left palm seven times before the Lord. 28 The priest shall then put some of the oil that is in his palm on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on the place of the blood of the guilt offering. 29 Moreover, the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s palm he shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed, to make atonement on his behalf before the Lord. 30 He shall then offer one of the turtledoves or young pigeons, which are within his means. 31 He shall offer what he can afford, the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, together with the grain offering. So the priest shall make atonement before the Lord on behalf of the one to be cleansed. 32 This is the law for him in whom there is an infection of leprosy, whose means are limited for his cleansing." If you are weak and poor, don't lose heart or be angry. God's choice of faith is fair to all. Even the comatose can meet God's Holy Spirit. The Lord receives the "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3)—a way has been made for you and me.
The people had not yet entered the land given to them, and when they did, free homes built by those they displaced were available to them. But what if something went terribly wrong with some of those houses? In Verses 33-38, "The Lord further spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying: 34 When you enter the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a mark of leprosy on a house in the land of your possession, 35 then the one who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, ‘Something like a mark of leprosy has become visible to me in the house. 36 The priest shall then command that they empty the house before the priest goes in to look at the mark, so that everything in the house need not become unclean; and afterward the priest shall go in to look at the house. 37 So he shall look at the mark, and if the mark on the walls of the house has greenish or reddish depressions and appears deeper than the surface, 38 then the priest shall come out of the house, to the doorway, and quarantine the house for seven days." Notice that the Lord openly states, "I put a mark of leprosy on (that) house." He wants your attention. He will attack your pride in your home, appearance, and reputation, allowing some kind of "leprosy" to be in your life, if that's what it takes to bring you to a deepened faith, a reliance on the Lord.
In Verses 39-42, "The priest shall return on the seventh day and make an inspection. If the mark has indeed spread in the walls of the house, 40 then the priest shall order them to tear out the stones with the mark in them and throw them away at an unclean place outside the city. 41 He shall have the house scraped all around inside, and they shall dump the plaster that they scrape off at an unclean place outside the city. 42 Then they shall take other stones and replace those stones, and he shall take other plaster and replaster the house." The family has been displaced, living with relatives or at an inn for more than a week, while the workmen try to remove the "leprosy" that has entered their lives. Has that happened to you? Have you become complacent in your circumstances, which suddenly are not safe anymore? Were you displaced?
God is not the author of all the problems in our lives. However, He will use what we or somebody else did, bringing us to a place where we will turn to the Lord, even if, initially, it's only to complain to Him about what's happened. And things can get worse. Verses 43-45: "If, however, the mark breaks out again in the house after he has torn out the stones and scraped the house, and after it has been replastered, 44 then the priest shall come in and make an inspection. If he sees that the mark has indeed spread in the house, it is a malignant mark in the house; it is unclean. 45 He shall therefore tear down the house, its stones, and its timbers, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall take them outside the city to an unclean place." Storms of various types abound in the world, and many have watched as pieces of their homes were carried away.
There is so much in humanity that is unclean in the sight of God, including our thoughts, words and what we do, and we are infected by what we see and touch. Verses 46-47: "Moreover, whoever goes into the house during the time that he has quarantined it, becomes unclean until evening. 47 Likewise, whoever lies down in the house shall wash his clothes, and whoever eats in the house shall wash his clothes." David did not have what we call the "New Testament," but he was more aware of the Lord's work in saving us than most of the people in the world today. He cried out in Psalm 51:2, "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin." The Lord cleansed David and He will do it for you and me.
Not all sin ends in utter destruction, and in Verse 48, "If, on the other hand, the priest comes in and makes an inspection and the mark has not indeed spread in the house after the house has been replastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean because the mark has not reappeared." We need to stop the behavior that led to our fall. We can't do it alone because we are obsessive creatures, stuck in our ways—we need help. And so God gave these pictures, parables, snap-shots of the future, when the Messiah would come and cure us from leprosy of the soul
And so we come to the cross of our Lord, bringing our loved ones, our possessions, ourselves, everything we hold dear, and surrender all to Him who is our Cure. Verses 49-53: "To cleanse the house then, he shall take two birds and cedar wood and a scarlet string and hyssop, 50 and he shall slaughter the one bird in an earthenware vessel over running water. 51 Then he shall take the cedar wood and the hyssop and the scarlet string, with the live bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird as well as in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 He shall thus cleanse the house with the blood of the bird and with the running water, along with the live bird and with the cedar wood and with the hyssop and with the scarlet string. 53 However, he shall let the live bird go free outside the city into the open field. So he shall make atonement for the house, and it will be clean." The house you live in is your body, which needs to be swept and made clean. Jesus died for you, as in the bird that was slaughtered, and the resurrected Jesus lives for you, as pictured by the one that flew into the air with a victorious chirp of freedom. He lives and because of Him, you will, too.
Verses 54-57: "This is the law for any mark of leprosy—even for a scale, 55 and for the leprous garment or house, 56 and for a swelling, and for a scab, and for a bright spot— 57 to teach when they are unclean and when they are clean. This is the law of leprosy." This is what you must do: Come to the Lord as a lost sinner, leprous in God's sight. Confess your sin to Him. To the extent you can with your little faith, TRUST that He, and only He, can deliver you. And He will. So...thank Him.
Lord, I have lost my way and I need You. I have sinned. I trust that You, only You, will deliver me. I am Yours, Lord. Thank You for the Cure that is making me clean. In Jesus Name. Amen.